Thursday, June 27, 2019

Chef Pancho's Vegan Plate at Global Café

I finally got a chance to stop into Global Café to try the new Venezuelan chef's vegan plate! Chef Pancho started working at Global Café, the international food hall in Crosstown Concourse, a couple weeks ago after the beloved Nepalese chef, Chef Indra, moved out of state.

Chef Pancho has several vegan options, including vegan empanadas and vegan arepeas, and I cannot wait to try those. But today, I had to order his Vegan Plate. A girl needs her rice and beans, y'all!

This is warm, steamy seasoned black beans (they're flecked with bell pepper), perfect white rice, and sweet fried plantains. And it was just what I needed. This is the kind of meal I can eat and feel really great all day.

All three chefs at Global Café offer vegan selections. I recommend the Sudanese falafel from Chef Ibti and the rice-stuffed grape leaves and baba ganoush from Syrian chef Fayha.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Fresh Breads! Breakfast Tofu!

Last weekend, I finally made it downtown to the Memphis Farmers Market. First time this year! I used to ONLY go to this market cause it's the biggest with the widest selection of produce. But when Don started selling Lulu's Baked goods at the Cooper Young Market, I switched to that smaller one. But now he's selling at both markets! He has more loaves of bread downtown and more pastries at the CY market. But Saturday, I needed bread. And I got it!

Pictured here is my haul: Marbled Rye and Focaccia from Lulu's Baked, plus fresh tomatoes from Ripley, Tennessee and pickling cucumbers (my fave).

I've been enjoying that marbled rye for breakfast this week with Breakfast Tofu from the No Meat Athlete Cookbook and hummus.

Here's that same tofu one morning on store-bought whole wheat toast with mashed avocado and sriracha. Breakfast of champions.

I made the Orzo Pasta Salad from the first No Meat Athlete book (not the cookbook, the fitness book that has a few recipes) to take to a Summer Solstice gathering at my friend Pam's house. I had a little leftover so I enjoyed some with a side salad Saturday night. The pasta salad has orzo, avocado, cherry tomato, oregano, and a citrus dressing made some olive oil, orange juice, lemon zest, and minced shallots and garlic.

Finally, here's a yummy Tempeh Stir-fry I whipped up last week. Tempeh, cauliflower crumbles, broccoli, and mushrooms over brown rice. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Lentils & Beans & Burgers!

I've been on an Indian food kick lately. I CANNOT. GET. ENOUGH. LENTILS. Y'ALL. Here's a quick Lentil & Rice Bowl I made with canned lentils (they're awesome and mega-convenient), baby spinach, fresh turmeric, and brown rice). Topped with mango ginger chutney from Trader Joe's.

The cafe at Crosstown Arts (where I work) had an Indian Bowl on the menu the other day. Had to get it! Lentils, basmati rice, pineapple cilantro chutney, and warm pita. 

They do a lot of stuff with toasted pita in the cafe. I don't know what kind of pita bread they're using, but it's amazing. And it stays warm the entire meal, like magic. One day last week, I ordered the Harissa Tofu & Veggie Skewers with couscous, tomato salad, and warm pita. The skewers were amazing with super-firm tofu, eggplant, and mushrooms. 

Imagine Vegan Cafe has been dealing with a lot of repairs lately. They've had to close twice for plumbing problems, but they're FINALLY open again after several weeks of being closed again. I've missed them so much! I stopped in on Tuesday for the Southern Staple, a tasty bowl with brown rice, black beans, collards, and lots of garlic aioli. It's served with a slab of sweet cornbread that's generously coated in vegan butter. YUM.

Yesterday, I blogged about Chef Indra's Vegetable Chow Mein at Global Café, which is no longer served there since Indra moved out of state a couple weeks ago. I had some leftovers when I ordered it for the last time, so the next day, I sauteed the leftover noodles with extra veggies and tofu.

I finally made another trip out to the Trader Joe's in Germantown a few weeks ago. I was sooooo excited that we finally had a TJ's in the area when it first opened, but the store is still about a 40-minute drive from my house. So I rarely get out there! When I do, I stock up. I got these Masala Burgers (they're Indian-spiced) and served them with TJ's mango-ginger chutney.  Love these! They're true veggie burgers with an all-veggie base. 

Speaking of burgers, here's a Red Bean & Brown Rice Burger (made using the No Meat Athlete Burger Formula) that I made forever ago and froze. I thawed one out a few days ago to enjoy on one of my friend Don's (of Lulu's Baked) tester hamburger buns. He offered me a few buns to try out, and he plans to start selling these at the downtown and Cooper-Young farmer's markets soon. These are the best buns I've ever had! They're like brioche buns but vegan! He's also testing hot dog buns like this!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Nepalese Food, Cobbler & Bagels!

Global Café, an international food hall in Crosstown Concourse (the building where I work), hosts three chefs from different countries, and one of those chefs — Chef Indra of Nepal — just moved to a new state with her family. There's a new chef now (Chef Pancho of Venezuela), and I'll be checking out his vegan offerings later this week! But I had to get one last bite of Chef Indra's Nepalese specialties before she left!

I had her Vegetable Chow Mein the week before she left. It was my very favorite dish at Global Café, and I am so sad to see it go! These noodles were seasoned so well and topped with raw onion, fresh jalapeno, and lime.

We had our May Vegan Drinks meet-up there as well, and I got Indra's Mo Mo Dumplings (that red sauce is super garlicky and amazing) and her Vegetable Samosas (the best I've ever had).

I'll check in with another post about Chef Pancho soon! He has lots of vegan options! Other Global Café chefs are from Syria and Sudan, and they have vegan offerings too.

My family and I celebrated Father's Day a weekend early since I was at Bonnaroo on actual Father's Day. Daddy LOVES Genghis Grill (which he calls Chaka Kann — inside joke!), so they drove to Memphis to eat there. I got my usual build-your-own Tofu Stir-fry Bowl with Brown Rice. 

On that trip, my mom brought me a portion of her Strawberry Cobbler, which she made with some frozen strawberries that she found in my granny's deep freezer. This was so amazing, especially topped with Reddi Whip almond topping.

Here's a random bowl of Savory Oats with cooked zucchini, spinach, nooch, toasted walnuts, and pepita salsa.

And here's a Dave's Everything Bagel from Otherlands. When I have freelance writing work to do, I like to take my computer up to this coffee shop and enjoy a bagel with vegan cream cheese and an almond milk latte. Gets the creative juices flowing!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Camping Food from Bonnaroo 2019

Last night, I posted about all the amazing vegan festival foods that I purchased at Bonnaroo Music Fest last weekend. Bonnaroo has long been a super-vegan friendly music fest, but as with all festivals, the food can be a little pricy. So I can't afford to eat every meal for 4 days from the vendors.

Every year, I bring lots of easy-to-prepare meals for breakfast and lunch at the campsite, and then I usually have my dinner out on the festival grounds (Centeroo). I have a camp stove (thanks dad!) to boil water (from a bottle), but I have no way to wash dishes there. I can't cook real meals without water for washing, so thank goodness for oat and soup cups!

Before I get into the food though, here's a picture of Paul and I at our campsite this year. This was our home for four days and three nights.

For the past 3-4 years, we've lucked into getting the exact same campsite right next to the Port-a-Potties, which sounds smelly but it's not so bad. And it's really convenient when you have to pee in the middle of the night (some campers have a half-mile walk to the potties!).

Most days, breakfasts are oat cups! This year, I brought oats from Trader Joe's with Justin's nut butter packets to round them out as meals. Check out our Obama tapestry that we hang on our shade tent every year! Miss that guy!!

This year, I brought some Kitchens of India boil-in-the-bag meals for lunches, as well as some already cooked basmati rice (from a bag). The Indian meals come in a silver bag that goes directly into a pot of boiling water. As for the rice, it's supposed to be microwaved to heat, but I just didn't heat it. And that was fine with the hot curry on top!

Sadly, I spilled half of this Potato & Pea Curry on my pants!

Paul said this Kidney Bean Curry looked like poop, but it tasted really good.

We always bring lots of instant ramen cups for snacks and breakfasts. I had this Toasted Garlic Brown Rice Pho as a late-night snack before catching The Lonely Island's show Saturday night.

Paul found these Nissin Very Veggie Cup O Noodles at Walmart and brought a bunch for us both. They're vegan and so goooood! They're loaded with dried edamame, carrots, and greens that rehydrate with boiling water.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Vegan Food at Bonnaroo 2019

Paul and I attended our 9th annual Bonnaroo Music & Arts Fest last weekend (it was the 18th annual Bonnaroo but our 9th year going). Since we started going to this massive music fest in Manchester, Tennessee, in 2010, vegan options have always been readily available. But the offerings just get better and better every year. I actually look more forward to the vegan food at 'Roo than the musical acts!

Tonight, I'm posting about all the food I ate in Centeroo, the main festival grounds. Since we camped at the fest, I had plenty of meals back at the campsite too. But I'll save those for a post tomorrow. We arrived on Thursday morning, but we didn't venture away from the campsite until mid-afternoon.

There was a new EDM stage called Where in the Woods, located in the general camping grounds (we stay in guest camping since I'm there to work as media), and we wanted to check it out. So we made the couple-mile trek to general camping. And that's where I saw The Beet Box (in Plaza 4), my favorite food vendor from last year! I tried their beet philly in 2018, so I wanted to try something new this time. I made a great choice with this Beet Burger!

The patty was made from beets and other veggies, served on a buckwheat blini with sunflower aioli and beetchup! SOOOOO good, and I felt like this was a pretty healthy start to my weekend.

Every year, there's a doughnut vendor by the Which Stage handing out free samples, but they're not vegan. Still, I had to pose with their doughnut!

The next day, I ate breakfast at the campsite, but we had to get out fairly early for Yoga-aroo! I've been doing yoga at Roo for years, and last year, I finally convinced Paul to do it with me. He had a great time!

After yoga, we had to pick up our bibs for the annual Roo Run 5K (set for Saturday morning). The bib pick-up was held in Plaza 2 in general camping, so it was another long walk from our campsite. I started to get a little hungry on the walk, so I stopped at Solar Cafe for a Tofu Scramble Wrap.

I've seen Solar Cafe on Bonnaroo's food vendor list on their website for years, but I've never made it over there. It's so far from where we camp, so when I saw it, I knew I wanted to stop! But I didn't realize that everything there is made to order, so my wrap took about 30 minutes. We were standing in the hot sun the whole time, so that was kind of a bummer. But when I finally got my food, it was worth the wait. Noochy sauteed tofu with broccoli, beans, salsa, spinach, and other veggies!

I shoot photos of musical acts for the Memphis Flyer when I'm there. That's my old job, but I still cover Roo for them! I had a few acts on the list to shoot Friday night, including the Avett Brothers and Griz. But I wanted to get something for dinner first. Luckily, these Chana Masala Fries were hot and fast! What a great idea!

You can see the pics I took for the Flyer here, and here's a fun crowd shot at Griz!

Saturday morning was Roo Run time! Paul has been dealing with an achilles injury, but he managed to get 3.1 miles in and still beat me! It's a hot race around the Roo farm with very little shade. My fave thing about this race is that it's hosted by ultrarunning legend Charlie Engle! I got a high-fave from him after the race. 

Later Saturday afternoon, we were wandering around near the Food Truck Oasis (where trucks from all over the country park) when I spotted Vegan Nachos at the Nectar Urban Cantina truck. These were amazing! Topped with a homemade noochy cheese sauce, beans, sweet potatoes, salsa, and lettuce.

On Saturday evening, like 12:30 am (so technically Sunday morning), I saw my favorite act this year — The Lonely Island (Andy Samburg's comedy rap group). Hilarious!

We planned to leave mid-day Sunday so we could get home by the end of the night. Manchester is about six hours away from Memphis. But we took one last stroll through Centeroo to shop for souvenirs and get our last taste of festival food. For me, that was a Vegan Arepa with guac, roasted red peppers, and caramelized onion from the Alma food truck.

This Venezuelan corn cake sandwich was delicious, but it was more snack-sized than meal-sized. Luckily, I knew just the thing to make it a meal! YUCA FRIES! No Roo is complete without a basket of hot, starchy yuca fries. What a perfect way to end a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Save the Oceans with Sparkling Water!

June is World Ocean Month, so the folks at FOUND Beverage reached out to ask if I would feature their new 100K Initiative to benefit Oceana, an advocacy group dedicated to protecting and restoring the world's oceans.

I'm a sparkling water addict, so I was more than happy to try out FOUND's new flavored sparkling water for the 100K Initiative! According to UNESCO, there are 100,000 marine mammals impacted by plastic in the oceans. To commemorate these animals, FOUND has developed 100,000 glass bottles of the brand's naturally sparkling, infused mineral water to sell and raise money which Oceana will use to protect the oceans and their wildlife.

Each of the 100,000 bottles is individually numbered, so you can get a better feel for the impact of plastic on wildlife. FOUND has bottled two flavors of their carbon-neutral sparkling water for the project — Cucumber Mint and Elderflower.

They sent me the Cucumber Mint, and it was fantastic! Just the right amount of bubbly carbonation with a refreshing cucumber flavor and hint of mint. Learn more about how you can support the 100K Initiative here. 100% of profits go to protecting all wildlife that call our oceans home.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Hummus & Doughnuts & Pizza!

One a few weeks ago, I brought a salad to work for lunch, but it just didn't feel like enough food for a proper lunch. So I ordered the Three Bean Hummus platter from the cafe at Crosstown Arts (where I work). I don't know what three beans are in this house-made hummus, but it's delicious — especially with that warm grilled pita.

Friday was National Doughnut Day! There's currently nowhere in Memphis serving vegan doughnuts on the regular – only occasionally at Imagine Vegan Cafe and the cafe at Crosstown Arts. So I had to make do on my own! I went to bootcamp Friday morning, and then I followed that with some FitQuick Protein Doughnuts (made from the chocolate brownie and orange cream bar waffle mix and topped with chocolate peanut butter and plain almond butter). I used to eat FitQuick waffles and doughnuts all the time! But I got a little burned out. Luckily, I still had some mix in my freezer.

Later that night, I picked out a recipe for Baked Frosted Lemon Doughnuts from Chocolate Covered Katie's cookbook. These were a little healthier than fried doughnuts, so I felt pretty good about eating two. 

Last time I was in Nashville, I ordered the OG Bowl from Wild Cow and added grilled tofu. Such a simple and healthy meal! But I LOVE it. I had to recreate it at home, and I think I nailed it — brown rice, garlic kale, pinto beans, and grilled tofu topped with garlic aioli. For the aioli, I thinned out a few tablespoons of Vegenaise with water and then added a few grated cloves of garlic. 

Here's another yummy — but not as pretty — bowl with roasted butternut squash, chickpeas, kale, quinoa, and tahini sauce.

On Mother's Day, we made naan pizzas at my parents' house, and my dad had the foresight to suggest I make an extra one to take home and freeze for a busy week night. This Vegan Sausage & Veggie Naan Pizza came in very handy one night! I just re-heated from frozen it in the air fryer, and it was perfect. My dad is so smart!

And here's a random Vegan Deli Sandwich with BE-Hive seitan slices, avocado, tomato, and lettuce. Served with my favorite Food Should Taste Good sweet potato corn chips.

We'll end this post with CAKE!! My friend Vaughan turned 65 a few weeks ago, and Stephanie baked him a Vegan Chocolate Cake. IT WAS SO GOOD. The party was kind of late on a week night, so I ate cake at 9 pm and then went to bed at 9:45 pm. Not the best idea. Definitely affected my sleep, but it was worth it.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Race Recap: Beer & Bagel Off-Road Series in Memphis

I know this is a food blog, but for me, running and food are SO interrelated. So much of what I eat is either for pre-run fuel or post-run recovery. But the best meals are post-race! I live for those celebratory meals of carbs and beer.

When I heard about the Beer & Bagel Off-Road Race Series moving to Tennessee, I knew I had to sign up. This trail series has been going on in other states for several years, but they expanded to include Memphis this year. The race was this past Saturday on the Wolf River Greenway and through some trails in Shelby Farms. The race's mascot is Bigfoot, and he was waiting for us about a mile into the 4(ish)-mile course.

He jumped out at runners as we passed, and then when we passed him again toward the end (the course was an out-and-back), he gave out high-fives. 

The course started through some single-track trail through Shelby Farms. It was muddy from the previous week's rain but not as bad as I expected. No big mud holes! The race organizers said they had to change the route a bit after the rain because part of the planned course was underwater. After we got through the single-track (about a half-mile), we switched to the paved Wolf River Greenway. We got to run on a new portion of the Greenway, which follows the Wolf River through a beautiful shaded forest area, that isn't yet open to the public. Very cool! There were butterflies everywhere!

As the race name implies, this event ends with beer and bagels, two of my very favorite foods (yes, beer is food). They had locally made beer by Wisecare and handcrafted bagels by Dave's Bagels.

We also got a sweet finishers' medal with Bigfoot on it. It doubles as a beer opener, naturally. Not pictured is the awesome race shirt we got — a long-sleeved tech shirt that says "I'm a runner with a drinking problem" on the back. Can't wait to wear that on some winter runs. I only wish they'd had short-sleeved shirts so I could wear it now!

There were two vegan bagels — Plain and Cinnamon Raisin — and they were cut in half. So I got a half of each. They also had BBQ at the post-race party, but of course that's not vegan. So I took some of the BBQ sauce and covered my plain bagel in it so I could have BBQ too. Turns out BBQ bagels are really good!

Super-fun race! I love the chill vibe of smaller trail races so much more than the high-energy, anxiety-inducing vibe of big city marathons.  Love running both, but I'll take a trail race over a road race any day!